Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Festival to celebrate the wedding of the Emperor Franz Joseph

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Gardens)

Event type: Popular social musical and dance events

Date: 03/05/1854

Programme including:

General participants:
  • ensemble of Infantry Regiment of Prince Gustav von Wasa: participating ensemble
  • Estates Theatre chorus: participating ensemble, vv
  • SVOBODA, František Václav: director of ensemble
ŠKROUP, Jan Nepomuk : Festival chorus [Jubelchor], solo vv, chorus, orch
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified choruses, vv
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified Overture Jubel Ouverture, orch
SVOBODA, František Václav : work for military music ensemble Viribus unitis, military orch
HAYDN, Franz Joseph : Austrian national hymn [anthem], vv


Der Tagesbote 8/4/1854 reported that to mark the wedding of the Emperor Franz Joseph [‘Sr. apost. Majestät’], a festival had been arranged on Žofín Island on 23rd April. The Kapellmeister Swoboda [Svoboda] had written ‘a great composition [ein großes Musikstück]’ entitled Viribus unitis especially for the occasion. This was to be performed by the combined [military] bands of the Prague garrison, and featured a solo by each individual [type of] instrument. No further details of the event were described by this source.

Advance news of this forthcoming event was published by Der Tagesbote 21/4/1854. ‘Viribus unitis’ was then noted to be the title of the occasion. Busts of the Imperial couple were to be lit [presumably by gas lighting] courtesy of Mr Božek. Each person attending would be presented with a copy of the ‘new national anthem with music [die neue Volkshymne mit Noten].’ Participating would be the musical ensemble of Wasa’s Infantry Regiment and the chorus of the Estates Theatre. A festival chorus in Czech composed by ‘Herr Skraup jun. [i.e. J.N. Škroup]’ to a poem by Kolár was to be performed. No further details of the event were reported.

Der Tagesbote 24/4/1854 published general news of celebrations taking place in Prague to mark the wedding of Franz Joseph. The text reported that events had been badly affected by the weather and noted that celebratory events had been given by the local Protestant church and in the Prague Synagogue [details of which are given in a separate event record]. The Festival performance to have taken place on Žofín Island on 23rd April was therefore postponed due to the bad weather until 2pm on the afternoon of 24th. If the weather was still unpleasant the source noted that the event would occur on the morning of the following day (25th). The occasion seems then to have been postponed until 30th April; on that date Der Tagesbote published news that ‘The great Festival [größe Jubelfest] on the Žofín Island for the Celebration of the Wedding of His Majesty the Emperor will take place today if the weather is propitious.’ This source then reported that news of the brilliant arrangements for this friendly festival had already been published by the newspaper. Mercy’s Anzeiger 29/4/1854 reported that ‘For next Sunday (30th April) a great Festive- and Souvenir-Festival, to celebrate the marriage of His Apostolic Majesty is arranged, dependent upon good weather.’ The text noted that the ladies attending the event were to be presented with a copy of F.W. Swoboda’s [Svoboda] „Kaiser-Franz-Josephs-Vermählungsmarsch“ in piano arrangement. Programmes to the event included the new national anthem with both words and music, as well as a portrait of the bride, the ‘Kaiserin von Oesterreich’. On 30/4/1854 the
newspaper also reported that ‘This afternoon, as we have already earlier reported, there takes place the great ‘Jubel-Souvenir-Fest’ on Žofín Island.’ The report expressed hope that wind and rain would not force the postponement of the event. A numerous attendance was expected.

Again the festival seems to have been postponed, for on 3/5/1854 Der Tagesbote reported that in the event of good weather the ‘Jubelfest’ to celebrate the wedding would take place ‘today, Wednesday 3rd May on the Žofín Island.’

That the
‘Jubelfest’ finally took place on 3rd May was confirmed by a review of social events surrounding the royal wedding celebrations that was published by Der Tagesbote 4/5/1854, and by review of the event appearing in Mercy’s Anzeiger 4/5/1854. The former related that ‘the constantly postponed „Jubelfest“ finally took place yesterday. The attendance was very great. Among the large crowd were brilliantly represented the beautiful, the young and the charming, and there was no lack of dignitaries and high officials. Besides the brave band and the good male voice choir, the most brilliant attraction and highlight was Romuald Božek’s refulgent painting [entitled Prophetensonne].’ At the moment the painting was illuminated the National Anthem was performed.

Mercy’s Anzeiger 4/5/1854 reported that given the better weather, the ‘Jubelfest’ took place ‘yesterday’. The ‘attendance was exceedingly numerous; we reckon on 4000 people being present. At the entrance to the Island was positioned a festively decorated gallery, on which the choir of the Royal Estates Theatre stood, and performed the most popular choruses and a specially composed Festival chorus [Jubelchor], written by Mr Kolar for this festival and composed by Court Kapellmeister Mr Skraup [J.N. Škroup - as indicated by the assignation ‘Domkapellmeister’], and deserving in this article of particular praise with regard to both the text and the music. On the ‘Restaurationsplatz [lit. restuarant-square]’ was the band of the Royal Infantry Regiment of Prince Wasa, which executed several completely successful compositions by their Kapellmeister, Mr Swoboda [Svoboda]. The ‘Jubel-ouverture [Festival Overture]
was especially distinguished. To end the festival the Volkshymne was performed and followed by the liveliest cheers. The lighting [effect] through the „Propheten-Sonne“ inspired unanimous recognition and praise for Mr Rom. Božek.’ 

Summary of sources:

Tagesbote aus Böhmen (08/04/1854)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (21/04/1854)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (24/04/1854)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (29/04/1854)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (30/04/1854)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (03/05/1854)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (04/05/1854)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (04/05/1854)